Bacon Jam!!!

 Now I figured with a name like Bacon Jam, that THIS would be a recipe that I would really like…Man, was I wrong!  I am IN LOVE with bacon jam…I mean really in love.

This is our new go-to condiment.  It goes on burgers, in grilled cheese, with cream cheese on crostini, in chicken salad, on baked potatoes and we’ve only had it in the house less than a week!  I would venture to say that it would be amazing with a little vanilla ice cream! Yum!!

I brought a jar to a family cook out and made everyone try it!  Unless everyone was just being polite…the reviews were (as I suspected…) “where can we get some?!?”

(My husbands bacon jam filled dinner plate! Ha, ha)

Looks like I’ll be putting Bacon jam on my Christmas gift list!

Want some of your own…

Here ya go!

 After my family filled their plates the first night right out of the crock-pot I filled 3 jelly jars and 4 smaller jars

3 lbs bacon

4 medium onions sliced

8 cloves garlic

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)

1.5 cups brewed coffee

1/4 cup molasses

2 bay leaves

Chop the raw bacon into small pieces and cook in a skillet (render out the fat) until the bacon is nice and crispy.

Remove the bacon and set aside.  Cook onions and garlic in remaining bacon fat until translucent.

In the meantime, put the rest of the ingredients in a crock pot.  Transfer the onion and garlic mixture and the bacon bits into the crock pot and set on high for 3-4 hours or until you have a runny jam like consistency.

I got impatient and put it into a wok and reduced it that way (the smell was intoxicating and I just couldn’t wait anymore!)

Pull out the bay leaves and zip it all in the food processor until the bacon is broken up, just a few spins.

Put it into jars and refrigerate.  Add to everything!!

My favorite so far is store-bought natural rotisserie chicken, pulled and mixed with mayo and bacon jam! Delish!!

I would think you could can in a pressure canner, but I will ask the experts before I make that claim for sure. 🙂

Next time I think I’ll experiment with a savory bacon jam.  This one is on the sweet side, I can just imagine one with a bit more garlic and rosemary….Mmmm….

Pigs, Pasture and Amazing Grace….

After a VERY busy few weeks, things around our little farm have calmed down a tad…well, enough for us to tackle a few of the things on the to do list.  One of the big ones was to move the electric fence outside of the pig enclosure to move the Babes into fresh greens. Well, it was more like getting up the nerve to move the electric fence outside of the pig enclosure to move the Babes into fresh greens.

It’s a pretty nerve-racking feat.  You see, the hubs is not home for most of the waking hours and that leaves me to “chase” pigs, should the need arise.  This is not something that I feel is in my repertoire of things that I am good at, but the pigs needed some fresh greens and this is the easiest way, so my fears remain on the back burner.

So, move them we did and what many have told us it is true, they say that pigs won’t cross the line where an electric fence was…that is unless there is pig feed on the other side!  We opened the gate and they went right up to it, but not past it.  We tried to coerce them, push them, chase them and nothing until I shook the feed bucket and they came a running, right past the gate into the field.  Those Babes truly LOVE their organic pig feed!

Whenever they see me, they snort, grunt and occasionally bark and when I grab the feed bucket they start frothing at the mouth, literally.  NEVER, ever come between a pig and their feed, they go nuts trying to get to it!

( A happy pig, is a muddy pig. 🙂 )

Once they were through the gate, they started chowing away on the greens and digging up the dirt with their snouts looking for bugs and whatever else smells yummy at that moment. 🙂

Once they were settled, the hubs and I grabbed a couple of chairs and just watched them do what they do while we sat in sun chatting about the future, our goals, and dreams for our bigger farm.   The kids were actually playing and getting along, then we heard it…bagpipes!  Seriously?!?  Now, where we are situated, there aren’t a ton of people around us and hardly anyone is around on a late Sunday afternoon, but someone was playing the bagpipes.

 As magical as it seemed at the moment, I soon realized that it was coming from the church not too far away.  There were no services at that time, just someone playing amazing grace on the bagpipes.  There was no traffic and no noise, just peaceful amazing grace.  Even after I realized that the sound wasn’t coming from the heavens (bummer), it was still magical.  After all, it isn’t everyday the we are treated to a private concert of amazing grace while sitting in the sun, talking about what the future holds, watching our kids play peacefully and seeing our animals enjoy new pasture.

It was a magical, well needed afternoon.

Thank you Bagpiper, whoever you are 🙂

Mud, Mud……

I wish I could sing that song “mud, mud, I like mud….I’m absolutely, positively wild about mud”…but alas, I cannot.  😦

It is not in my DNA to like mud or even messes, which is a really funny thing considering our little farm here!

Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me that it’s time to change my dirt free ways, maybe, just maybe. Although I am learning to be ok with messes and muck, I don’t think I’ll ever like it.  This past week my muck-less ways were really tested as it rained and rained and rained followed by 2 days of REALLY heavy rain.  All was fine and dandy until Sunday when the hubs went to feed the piggies and they were all but floating in their pen.  Their house and bedding were under water and their entire pen had about 4 inches in most places with deeper spots all over (those of which I found myself, lucky me!).

Out we went to move the pig house, once we did that we just watched the water flow right under the gate of the pen and just pooled wherever it wanted to.  Thankfully we had an extra set of hands!  My Hubs brother-in-law was here and he had the brain power to just watch the water and let it-lead us on the route out of the pen…so trench one was built and ran directly through the pen to empty it.  Then the real work began, the boys dug a huge trench to move the water away from and around the pen.  Thank goodness for quick thinking!

Everything is wet, but drying, thankfully.  As for the chickens,  this batch is not afraid of the rain and was fully embracing it for its worm producing qualities, taking a break on the porch every once in a while.

Getting out of the rain….

Our standard footwear these days…

What’s left of  the mud bath at the Piggie Pen spa….

They didn’t mind half as much as we did!

Oh…the treasures they are finding in the mud!

Trench one finally dried…

Trench 2 still running with rain water…

More water!

And there you have it…mud, mud and more mud.

 Not a dream situation at all, but hey…it’s all part of living on our little farm.

Life is getting back to normal as the sun decides to share itself with us, things dry and we are all still a bit soggy, but a bit wiser for it. 🙂

Around the Farm…

I’m not exactly sure what qualifies one as a farm, but to me, it is a big white house and an even bigger red barn. But seeing as we aren’t quite there yet…I suppose 15 chickens and 4 pigs puts us in that category even without the barn. 🙂

Well..It’s been a while since my last update and since late April through May for us has 7 close family birthdays, a special memorial weekend for my Dad a wedding and much, much more…I’m trying to squish everything into a few posts.

So…here goes…

Just one of the spring tulips…

~Two of the ladies doing what they do…

~Feisty the pig…

~More of natures beauty…

~Red checking out the camera…

~Blue digging up the dirt…

~One of the tulips that made it past the chickens…

~Pinky taking a break…

~Wanting to eat the camera…

~Typical shoe wear ’round these parts…

~Getting a little drink…

The piggies are growing faster than I could have imagined and love to eat everything from twigs and bugs to scrambled eggs!  They love to scamper around and frolic when sprayed with cool water on a hot day.  We gave them some beach balls to play with and they love them!   They are tilling the soil for us faster than we could have imagined as well and we are discovering just how rocky that area is.  Looks like there is some major compost and soil that’s going to be needed to make that area into our giant garden for next year as we had planned.

Our chickens are happy and eating all of the bugs in the yard and the occasional flower or two.  I now know why farms don’t have typically have manicured flower beds.  Fresh mulch makes for great dust baths and they seem to enjoy themselves so much.

Oh well. 🙂

We are moving right along into spring and I am feeling a bit behind as we should have started our seedlings long ago. 😦  Perhaps it will just be easier to buy the seedlings this year and direct sow the rest.  *sigh*  Maybe next year.  This year is flying by so quickly.

Off to feed the piggies again….

Babies and Butter…

Piggies.Piggies.Piggies!

I find myself outside often, just leaning over the fence staring at them, they are so cute!  They scamper and run, eat and poop.  I swear the little brown one is straight out of the new muppet movie.

Adorable!

They took a few days for them to get acclimated to us, but now they come running.  One even tried to eat my boot this morning.  They are smart and curious and LOVE to eat and root around.  One of the reasons that we chose the to put them in the area that we did is because in that area, the ground was so hard and compact that we would have has to till the whole thing to have a garden in that spot next year.  Now, with the help of my little friends snouts and their love of bugs, the area is being tilled and turned.  I really had no idea that there was soil under there as they stripped all of the rich topsoil when they built our home.  We will let them till and eat all they want from that paddock and when they are through, we’ll move them to the other side and plant a fast growing crop in the side that they turned and keep flipping them so they always have fresh pasture to play an eat. 🙂

So, that’s the piggie update. 🙂

Now onto butter!

We do love butter so I thought I’d buy some cream and make my own.  I had NO idea how easy it was!  Now, I get fresh cream and make butter once a week.  You really don’t have to watch it until the very end as it splashes.

First add your cream to a stand mixer with a whisk..I had a little in my coffee, so it wasn’t quite a quart, but the coffee was amazing! 😉

Add cream to the mixer and start whipping.  Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of sea salt…

Keep whipping…you’ll recognize the yummy whipped cream stage, but keep going…

The whipped cream will become loose and chunky and you’ll begin to see the buttermilk separating.

You might want to get a towel to put over the mixer at this stage as it will splatter….

When it begins to ball up, you’ve got butter!!

Pour off the buttermilk and save it for a recipe.  Take your butter and run it under very cold water while kneading it until the water runs clear.  This washes the excess buttermilk out and makes your butter last longer.

At this stage you can put your freshly made butter back into a clean mixing bowl and add chopped herbs or cinnamon sugar or honey or just about anything to make a flavored (compound) butter. 🙂

Yummy butter and buttermilk!

Use your fresh butter for some Salted Caramel Buttercream creme horns!! Mmmmm!

~~~

Now, on the subject of butter…I have read that to get a richer butter flavor it is recommended to let your cream sit out for about 12 hours to sour a bit, then churn it.  I will try that next time, but I find this butter to be just delicious.  You might also want to add a bit of vinegar to your buttermilk if you are using it in a recipe as most buttermilk is cultured (soured).

As the grass turns greener in this area I plan on getting cream from local pastured cows and making bulk butter and freezing it.  Milk and cream from cows grazing on new spring grass has so many more vitamins than any other time of year.

Might as well capitalize on that. 🙂

Enjoy your butter!!